16 Best Guitar Amps Ever: All-Time Greats

For decades, the guitar has been used to produce music that has become important to each one of us through the years. From blues to rock, music is the anthem of our lives at each stage of the journey.

But have you ever considered the amplifiers that were used for some of these amazing tones? In some cases, the guitar amplifiers were the primary reason for the sounds that we have come to love. But are they the best guitar amps ever?

In this article, we are going to look at some of the most popular amplifiers of all time and see how they have been used to get these great tones.

Best guitar amps ever

16 Best Guitar Amps Of All Time

Here are some of the best guitar amplifiers made, in no particular order.

Marshall 1959 Super Lead Plexi

The Marshall 1959 Super Lead Plexi is considered by many to be the best guitar amplifier ever made. This amplifier was first introduced in 1965 and quickly became the go-to choice for many of the world’s most famous guitarists. The reason for its popularity is simple – it sounds incredible.

The Super Lead Plexi has four inputs, two for each channel. The channels can be used independently, or they can be linked together. This amplifier was designed to be used with high-gain pickups, which is why it has become so popular with rock and metal guitarists.

The sound of the Super Lead Plexi is big, bold, and in your face. It has a lot of power and can be cranked up to very high volumes. This makes it perfect for those who want to play with a lot of distortion.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jimmy Page
  • Angus Young
  • Tony Iommi

Fender Bassman

The Fender Bassman is another one of the most popular guitar amplifiers. This amp was first introduced in 1952 and was originally designed to be used with bass guitars. However, it wasn’t long before guitarists realized that this amplifier could also be used to get some great sounds.

The Fender Bassman is known for its clean, clear tone, which is why it became so popular with country and blues guitarists. It’s also been used by some of the most famous rock guitarists in history.

As the amp gets turned up to higher volumes, it begins to distort, producing a thick, creamy tone that only it can.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Eric Clapton
  • Brian Setzer
  • John Fogerty
  • Buddy Guy

Vox AC30

The Vox AC30 is one of the most iconic guitar amplifiers made. This amplifier was first introduced in 1958 and quickly became the go-to choice for many British Invasion bands. The Vox AC30 has a very distinct sound that is often described as “jangly”.

This amplifier has two channels, one for normal sounds and one for “top boost”. The top boost channel is where the Vox AC30 gets its unique sound. This channel has a lot of mid-range frequencies, which gives it that jangly tone.

The Vox AC30 has also been used by some of the most famous hard rock and metal bands in history. Its unique sound is perfect for those who want to stand out from the rest.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • The Beatles
  • The Edge
  • Brian May
  • Oasis

Fender Twin Reverb Blackface

The Fender Twin Reverb amplifier was first introduced in 1965 and quickly became the go-to choice for many country and blues guitarists. The reason for its popularity is simple – it sounds incredible.

The Fender Twin Reverb has a very clean sound, which is why guitar players desire it. It’s also been used by some of the most famous rock guitarists in history.

The blackface model is one of a few different circuits that was more popular with players. It also featured a great reverb that made it a very versatile amplifier.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • B.B. King
  • James Burton
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Jack White

Marshall JCM800

The Marshall JCM800 amplifier was first introduced in 1981, but was a version of the JMP 2203 circuit. The JCM800 was designed to be a more versatile amplifier than the 2203. It featured a new master volume that allowed for distortion without blistering volume.

The Marshall JCM800 has a very powerful sound that is perfect for those who want to play with a lot of distortion. It’s also been used by some of the most famous hard rock and metal bands in history.

It’s said that Jim Marshall named this amplifier using his initials and the number from his license plate.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Slash
  • Kirk Hammett
  • Jeff Hanneman
  • Kerry King

Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier

The Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier amplifier was first introduced in 1989 and quickly became one of the most popular models ever made. This amplifier is known for its versatility, as it can be used for a wide range of styles.

The Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier has three channels, each with its distinct sound. The clean channel is great, the rhythm has a bit of distortion, and the lead is where the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier shines.

This amplifier can go from clean to extremely distorted, making it perfect for those who want to experiment with different sounds. This amp uses silicone diodes as well as tube rectifiers, where the name comes from.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Foo Fighters
  • Mark Tremonti
  • John Petrucci
  • Metallica

Peavey 5150

The Peavey 5150 amplifier was first introduced in 1992 and was designed by Eddie Van Halen. The Peavey 5150 is a very versatile amplifier, but is primarily used for rock and metal tones

The Peavey 5150 has two channels, this gives the amplifier versatility. The clean channel is quite clear, while the lead is where the Peavey 5150 gets its distortion.

This amplifier uses tubes primarily for its sound and is a more sought-after high gain option. Once Eddie parted ways with Peavey, the company continued to release this amp, named the 6505.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Eddie Van Halen
  • August Burns Red
  • All That Remains
  • Chimaira

Roland JC-120

The Roland JC-120 amplifier is a solid-state design and does not use any tubes. It was first introduced in 1975 and is known for its clean and bright sound. It features a built-in chorus, reverb, and vibrato which made it even more desirable.

The Roland JC-120 has two channels, each with its own sound. The clean channel is sparkling and clear, while the lead can get quite distorted. However, it was the clean sound that was the most appealing with this amplifier.

This amplifier was used by many jazz and fusion guitarists in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s still popular today among those who want a classic, clean sound without using tubes.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • James Hetfield
  • Paul McCartney
  • Slash
  • Nick Valensi

Soldano Slo-100

The Soldano Slo-100 amplifier was first introduced in 1987. It was designed by Mike Soldano and is a tube amplifier that is known for its distortion. It has three channels, each with its own sound.

The Soldano sound has been described as “fat” and “creamy.” It’s perfect for those who want a heavier sound without sacrificing clarity. This amplifier is all tube and features some easy-to-use controls.

The Slo-100 has been used by some of the most famous hard rock and metal bands in history. It’s still one of the most popular high gain amplifiers ever made.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Mick Mars
  • George Lynch
  • Jerry Cantrell

Hiwatt DR103

The Hiwatt DR103 amplifier was first introduced in 1972. It was designed by Dave Reeves and is known for its classic clean sound. This amplifier is all tube and has two channels, which were loosely based on the Marshall Plexi.

The clean channel is clear, while the lead can be quite distorted, but only when it’s pushed to be quite loud. The DR103 was able to maintain a crystal clear, clean sound even when turned up quite loud.

This made it ideal for performance, as it was also very punchy and thick compared to other amplifiers. It was used by some of the most famous bands in history, including Pink Floyd and The Who.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • David Gilmour
  • Pete Townshend
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Moody Blues

Orange Rockerverb

The Orange Rockerverb amplifier was first introduced in 2003. It’s an amplifier that is known for its orange Tolex finish and its British sound. It has two channels, which provide a clean tone as well as a distorted option.

The clean channel can be used for a variety of genres. The lead channel is where the distortion comes in, and it can get quite heavy but does have a grainy, fuzzy type of sound.

This amplifier is all tube and is available in variations that provide different output levels, such as a 50 and 100-watt version.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Jim Root
  • Andreas Kisser
  • Pat McCrory
  • Brent Hinds

Check out our article, are Orange amps good?

Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+

The Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ amplifier was first introduced in 1984. It’s a tube amplifier that is known for its Mesa Boogie tone. It has two channels and a very versatile EQ.

The clean channel has a gorgeous tone, while the lead is where the distortion lives. The Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ also has a built-in effects loop, which allows you to use pedals with it.

This amplifier was used by many famous hard rock and metal bands in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s still popular today for those who want a high-quality Mesa Boogie sound.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Kirk Hammett
  • Prince
  • Santana
  • John Petrucci

Diezel VH4

The Diezel VH4 amplifier was first introduced in 1994. It’s a tube head that is praised for its high gain tone. It has four channels, which provide a clean tone, two different distorted sounds, and a lead boost option.

The clean channel is very clear and can be used for a variety of genres. The two distorted channels each have a different sound, so you can get a variety of tones from this amplifier. The lead boost option gives you an extra kick of distortion when you need it.

This amplifier is all tube and features a built-in effects loop. It’s also available in a 100-watt version.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • Metallica
  • Slipknot
  • Adam Jones
  • Mastodon

Dumble Overdrive Special

The Dumble Overdrive Special amplifier was first introduced in 1972. It’s a tube model that is known for its unique sound, and each one is designed to respond the way the artist prefers.

Hand-wired by Alexander Dumble, the Overdrive special is quite the concept. It’s said that they could not be obtained for several years, as Alexander only made a few per year.

Anyone who would want to seek one would pay over 6 figures to complete a purchase.

Some of the artists that have used this amplifier include:

  • Mark Tremonti
  • Keith Urban
  • John Mayer
  • Eric Clapton

Magnatone 260

The Magnatone 260 amplifier was first introduced in the 1950s. It’s a tube amplifier that is not as well known anymore. Those that own one, however, know how much potential they have for great sound.

The warm, clean sound was the more desirable tone from this amp, but it also had a unique vibrato that was not like anything else.

This combo amplifier was used by many famous blues and rock artists in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s still popular today for those who want a classic, vintage sound and can find one.

Artists who have used this amplifier include:

  • David Gilmour
  • Mike Campbell

Revv Generator 120

The Revv Generator 120 amplifier was first introduced in 2014. It’s a valve or tube amp that is becoming known for its high gain sound and deserves a mention. While still very young, this amplifier brand has made quite an impression on modern musicians.

The Generator features 4 channels, which provide a clean tone, two high gain distortions, and a crunch option. Their newest version features a built-in gate, reverb, and load box attenuator for speaker IRs.

We are very impressed with this amplifier and the sounds and control features it has been designed with. So much so that this is one amplifier to pay attention to as it begins to make a history of its own.

Artists that use this amplifier:

  • Ben Bruce
  • Josh Steely
  • Jeff Loomis
  • Kevin Skaff
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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear.I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!